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Telemedicine and diabetes in South Africa: a quick guide

The Economist Intelligence Unit recently released a superb article about telemedicine and diabetes in South Africa – we unpack it for you.

Enabling telemedicine for people living with diabetes: Focus on South Africa

The article can be found online here – with a download to the full report (it is well worth reading!) It looks both at the diabetes situation in South Africa, and the changes that have been made since COVID-19. (Here’s more information about COVID-19 and diabetes, if you need it.)

It’s the stats on diabetes in South Africa that are particularly terrifying, though:

The opportunities for telemedicine and diabetes in South Africa

One of the big opportunities for telemedicine and diabetes in South Africa is the ability for remote monitoring of people with diabetes. We’ve spoken about this before, in reference to the ability of CGM and flash glucose monitors like the FreeStyle Libre to make it easy to connect with your doctor remotely. When it comes to COVID times, though, this ability becomes even more urgent.

Not having to go to a doctor’s room, hospital or clinic is a necessity – both for those who have COVID and for those who are trying to minimise their risk. If your doctor can see your blood glucose test results at a glance (through data uploaded to the cloud via LibreView and other CGM apps), they are able to advise from a distance.

“COVID-19 highlighted the potential benefits that telemedicine can have in South Africa and acted as an enabler. Prior to COVID-19, medical practitioners undertook remote consultations at their own risk and without payment.

In March 2020, the Health Professions Council of South Africa said that during the pandemic remote consultations would be allowed with patients that practitioners already had a relationship with, and that practitioners could charge for them. However, this change is not permanent and could cease.

The mechanisms to allow remote consultations are in place, efforts should be made to make those mechanisms permanent by demonstrating the benefits and future potential of telemedicine, especially for those living with diabetes.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit
telemedicine and diabetes in south africa

Easier access to diabetes tech

The big stumbling blocks, of course, are electronic patient records (in state care) and access to diabetes tech – like the FreeStyle Libre or even glucometers that can upload blood test results to the cloud. In the absence of data of any kind, it’s difficult for doctors to be able to provide meaningful insight.

This report is a deep dive into telemedicine and diabetes in South Africa – and a valuable one. If you are interested, please read the full report and let us know what you think.

What to read next?

Everything you need to know about the FreeStyle Libre: We gathered all your questions and answered them – here’s all you need to know about the Libre.

What is a CGM? Flash glucose monitoring and CGM: Not sure what the difference is, or what these words mean? Read this article.

We did it! How to claim the Discovery CGM Benefit: A step-by-step guide to claiming the new CGM Benefit.

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.